Cure, The (Robert Smith)/Washburn Bass


QUESTION: In the Trilogy concerts it seems the band used instruments current to the album recorded or toured, except for Simon's Washburn bass. Do you know why?

ANSWER: Hi Chris,

Playing time relevant instruments was part of the game, but I think Robert Smith only fully respected the rules. And that's only for guitars, not more. Effects and amps were definitely not the ones they used to play in 1982 and 1989 (at least). By this time, amps were exclusively Peaveys (for guitars and bass). Most of the amps for Trilogy were the ones they used during the 2000 Dream tour.

As for effects, they certainly didn't have these Boss pedalbords in 1982.

Synths used for Trilogy were not the ones used in 1982 and 1989 either (1982 was Roland RS-09 / Korg Maxi 800DV / Korg Trident - to be confirmed, 1989 was Roland JX-8P / Korg M1 / Yamaha master keyboard). None of these were played at these Trilogy shows (O'Donnell playing what I believe was a Kurzweil keyboard).

Same for the drums (Cooper played a DW drumset where Tolhurst used Pearl in 1982 and Williams a Yamaha Recording Custom 9000 in 1989).

So all in all, it was really not true to say they played the same instruments as they used to for this string of performances. They looked like they were the same, but that's all.

Simon Gallup was no exception to the above mentionned. For these concerts, he played a Ernie Ball Stingray instead of the couple Music Man Stingrays he used to play in 1989. That's only a detail, but it's just to point out that only Smith used time relevant instruments (EB Stingrays feature a dot on the 21st fret which was not present on MM Stingrays).

Now, to the core of the question : why didn't Gallup play the Washburn AB-40 ? I really think it has to do with the troubles he encountered with this bass during the Prayer tour in 1989. The AB-40 is not only a semi acoustic bass, it's also deep and hollow bodied. Having said that, it's sure prone to feedback and therefore difficult (or worse, impossible) to use onstage. In a 1994 interview for Bass Player magazine, remebering about the Prayer Tour, Gallup stated he "used a custom Washburn a lot; it had great tone. I thought that having the pickup in the bridge would never work, but it was fantastic. That bass was a bloody nightmare to play live because of feedback, though....I discovered that in certain songs, a tone's resonance would start feedbacking, so I would have to stand at a certain place onstage. I did that for the whole Disintegration tour."

So all in all, I think he (or they, as a technical team) tried and avoided the hassle of using a bass that would go "eeeeeeeeeek" any time he moved on stage. That's fully understandable, especially for so few almost "one shot" events.

I hope the answer helps.



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: During the Prayer Tour what parts did Porl Thompson play during Plainsong and Faith. I've watched and listened to versions of both and cannot hear him playing.

ANSWER: Chris,

Here is a video giving the answer for "Plainsong" : Porl began playing his ES-175 from 3'34", but I think it was mainly for doubling Simon's bass gimmick (certainly by playing the same line o his A string) :

Here is a tab result from what I "see" (because honestly, I can't hear anything...) :

E------------------------- (2 times)

E------------------------- (1 time)

Same lines repeated once, then :

E---------------------------- (2 times)

E---------------------------- (1 time)

E------------------------------- (1 time)

Whether the end of the riff is played is hard to say, the video doesn't show it. I've tried by listening to Entreat Plus, but it doesn't give any more clue (despite being supposedly the best live rendition available of "Plainsong") : if there is a guitar in there it's so low in the mix that it can't be heard (or at least, I can't hear it). Anyway, from what I see that's exactly the same as Robert's Bass VI line played on the album (but played one octave lower on a "classic" guitar neck).

For "Faith,it's really the same : I can't really hear anything on this video (except some doubling, for example aroud 1'20", or fifth doubling at bit later on). Here is a video ( showing a certainly out of his face Bob, screwing up the intro with his VI, even stopping playing because, you know, it's too hard (ahahahahah ! Listen to this massacre round 2'00"). Porl even prevents him fro falling, his feet being caught in his lead... Dreadful.

On another 1989 version, in Rome, there is certainly some guitar playing, as Porl seems to be a bit more over mixed. Listen to the end of the song here : (round 10'40", a second guitar can be heard, in between delayed notes of Bob's Bass VI). But as guessed, it's mainly improvizatio aroud the theme of the song.  

Hope the answer helps.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you Wid for your answers. One last Porl question. Do you know what kind of guitar he is playing during Pictures of You on the Play Put video?

Hi Chris,

It's a vintage mid-sixties Danelectro Bellzouki. This 12-string guitar was designed by Vincent (aka "Vinnie") Bell. There were 3 different models :
  - 7010 : Teardrop shaped, one pickup. Certaintly the most common
  - 7020 : improved shapes, allowing a seated guitarist to play, 2 pickups. That's the one Porl played on this video.
  - 7021 : similar body shape as Coral Sitar, 2 pickups (I personally never saw any of these except in Danelectro brochures. I even doubt it was ever manufactured in series).

It's worth noting that Porl's one is certainly modified : it looks black, and these Danelectro never came with this finish. The pickups on his are also surrounded by chrome rings (which is usual on common Danos, but not on Bellzoukis).

Hope the answer helps.


Cure, The (Robert Smith)

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts




READ THIS CAREFULLY BEFORE ASKING !!! I will answer any kind of query about their music & instruments. I won't answer questions about private life. Just don't ask or the questions will be rejected. Be sure I won't waste my time explaining why. I'm not able and (above all) not willing to answer questions about their wives (please subscribe to the Sunday Sun for this kind of questions, you may find answers). Sounds crazy to write that but I've received some really stupid queries about this subject lately... Other point of interest before you send questions : I'm not a psychanalyst. All questions revolving around you loving Robert as a dad (or lover) are no questions but matter of fact. I'll be delighted not to answer these queries... Last but not least : I won't answer people who don't even care reading replies (yeah, strange, but some "people" do that, showing the interest they put in their own questions and how the respect the time given by volunteers...). No read or rate ? no further questions answered !


Cure fan since 1981, semi-pro musician


©2017 All rights reserved.